Devil’s Curry

June 4, 2022

Chicken curry with vinegar is known as Devil’s Curry in Malaysia. The Portuguese Eurasian community in Malaysia popularized this dish as a special occasion entree.


Chicken curry with vinegar is known as Devil’s Curry in Malaysia. The Portuguese Eurasian community in Malaysia popularized this dish as a special occasion entree. This is a traditional Malaysian recipe from the state of Melaka (Malacca).


It was Malacca, in the 15th century, that was Southeast Asia’s most important trading port. In terms of military capability, the Sultanate of Malacca was formidable.

Malaysia’s colonial history began with the seizure of Malacca by the Portuguese in 1511.

Cristang/Eurasian community in Malacca was created by Portuguese who married local women and stayed in the city.

Curry or Devil’s Curry For them, the devil is reserved for exceptional occasions. Alternatively, it’s known as Kari Debal or Curry Debal.


This spicy red curry uses the following ingredients in its spice paste:

  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Galangal
  • Lemongrass
  • Red chilies
  • Shallots
  • Garlic

All of the ingredients mentioned above can be found in countries other than Malaysia. Asian markets are good sources for spices such as mustard seeds, galangal, and turmeric.

Vinegar is added to Devil’s Curry to give it a sour flavor.

The end result is a mouthwatering curry dish with a kick of heat and a rich, complex flavor.

It’s a must-have for Malaysia’s Eurasian Kristang population during holidays like Christmas.

My buddy Chef Robert Danhi, whose sister-in-law is a Portuguese-Eurasian born and raised in Malacca, taught me how to make this dish.


You certainly can. This curry dish can be enjoyed for lunch and dinner throughout the day for a small family. Overnight, the curry’s taste deepens and intensifies. Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat them the following day before serving.

What is the average number of calories in one serving?

  • This recipe is excellent for a large family because it serves four people. Each serving of this recipe contains only 336 calories.

With this recipe, what are its complementary dishes?

Steamed rice is the ideal accompaniment to this curry recipe. I propose these recipes to make a Malaysian dish and a simple midweek dinner.




  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • 30 dried red chilies, seeded and soaked in water for 20-30 minutes
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced galangal
  • 3 thinly sliced stalks lemongrass, white part only
  • 8 small shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil


  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • 1 lb. peeled potatoes, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 lbs. chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • Cilantro, for garnishing, optional
  • 1 cup water


  1. Puree all Spice Paste components until they are completely smooth in a food processor or blender. Toss out of the way.
  2. The oil should be heated to a medium temperature in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot before using. Mustard seeds should be dropped into hot oil and allowed to cook until they begin to pop and sizzle.
  3. The Spice Paste should be added to the oil and stirred in after about 10 minutes of cooking to help it blend in.
  4. Stir in the spice paste and the chicken until it is well-coated. Add the potatoes after 8 to 10 minutes of cooking time. Make sure everything is thoroughly combined by giving it a good stir.
  5. Water should be poured in. Meat and potatoes should be barely submerged in the water. It is up to you how much salt and sugar you want to add to your food. Make a good stir, and then bring it to a boil over high heat. For around 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender, cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer on low heat.
  6. Salt and sugar can be used to taste-test the dish and make necessary adjustments. Add the tamarind juice or white vinegar (refer to Notes). Make sure everything is thoroughly combined by giving it a good stir.
  7. Using cilantro as a garnish is optional, but it’s a nice touch. Serve immediately with steamed rice.


  • The amount of dried red chilies you use depends on your personal preference for spice.
  • Tamarind juice can be used in the distilled white vinegar in this recipe. 3 tablespoons of pulped tamarind are mixed with around 1/3 cup of water to form the liquid. Get the juice out of the pulps by squeezing them a few times with your fingers. Use the tamarind juice instead of the pulps, which should be discarded.
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